Friday, December 29, 2006

Last Friday of the year

Happy New Year! Almost. Today is the last Friday of the year and there is no one in the office. Well, almost no one. That is a good thing where I work . . . that means that I can get some work done with little interruption.

Wednesday night-
I did a 5 miler. I was wanting to do 6 or 7 but the schedule thing just kept me from it. I will be glad to get out of the holiday season and get back to a more normal schedule. Anyway . . . I ran 5 miles about 8:50 pace. Not fast and not too slow. As baby bear would say-"just right". It was just enough work to make me clear my head. I like those kind of runs.

Thursday night-
Hill work. As usual, I warmed up with 2 1/2 miles at a pace a little slower than 9 minutes. I am starting to tell that the hills I've been doing the last several weeks are starting to do me some good. I added one repeat last night meaning that I did 5 hill repeats and it felt really good. I cooled down with a run of 1 1/2 miles.

2 1/2 miles
5 x .02 miles up hill & 5 x .02 miles downhill (2 miles)
1 1/2 miles

Total of 6 miles last night.

Tomorrow I am planning on doing 15 miles. I'll try to post it tomorrow.

I hope everyone out there has a great weekend. I am sure that there are plenty of "end of year" runs and "resolution" runs going on so I wish you all fun and speed for whatever run you're planning on doing.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

A new year approaches

Hey all. Yes, I know . . . I've been lazy on my postings. Actually, like most folks, the holiday schedule has taken me away from the mundane, routine way of life. As much as I enjoy the time with family and friends, I do enjoy getting back into my routine. Isn't that a sad statement about me and my life?

Running. Yes, I have been doing some of that. Let me scratch my head and see if I can recall since this is my only running diary.

Last Thursday was hill work. I did the same that I have done the last several weeks- I warmed up with 2 1/2 miles at an easy pace (9:15-9:30). Then I took on my hill. The same one . . . . 0.2 miles of a steep climb. Did it four times. I didn't bump it up to five as I wanted to do (maybe this week). Then I ran 1 1/2 miles to cooldown.

Saturday morning. Long run. Though my next serious run will be the end of April, there are a couple of half marathons that I'll be doing before then. Therefore, it is only appropriate that I need to be running at least that distance. I did 13.2 miles. I did deliberately slow down a little bit, just so that I wouldn't feel wiped out later in the day when I went to my parents for Christmas dinner. I did the whole run on my 1.2 mile loop in the neighborhood. I got an early start around 7 ish and it was still pretty cool (upper 40s). I started in a long sleeve but after a couple of loops, I ran into the house for a quick pottie break and to change to a short sleeve coolmax. Here are my loop times and corresponding paces:

Loop 1 11:09 (9:17 mile)
Loop 2 11:04 (9:13 mile)
Loop 3 11:06 (9:15 mile)
Loop 4 10:57 (9:08 mile)
Loop 5 11:00 (9:10 mile)
Loop 6 10:27 (8:42 mile) I ran a loop with fast Patrick
Loop 7 11:03 (9:13 mile)
Loop 8 11:13 (9:21 mile)
Loop 9 11:06 (9:15 mile)
Loop 10 10:50 (9:02 mile)
Loop 11 10:52 (9:03 mile)

Total time: 2:00:52
Avg. 10:59:30 per loop or 9:09.6 per mile

I know it is slow but I felt great afterwards and could have gone several more miles at this pace. It is comforting to know that even in as bad a shape as I am, the fitness level is returning and I anticipate my times dropping after several more weeks of hill work and tempo runs.

Sunday afternoon. Yep. I normally do not run the day after a long run but I had to fit it into the schedule. I did a very easy 5 miler. I ran 4 miles with Susan in her neighborhood. After she dropped off, I did 1 more mile at a much quicker pace which felt surprisingly good!

Now for musings and ramblings . . . .

The title of today's blog is "A new year approaches". This is true on several levels in my life. Obviously, the calendar on the wall says December 27, 2006. A few more days and we will all be victims of the past year and will be preparing to dive headlong into 2007. For those of you who have found my blog and followed it, you know that Christmas night marked the 1 year anniversary of my wife Mona's passing. This past year has had it's highs and lows. To be honest, it has had more highs than I expected, thanks in part to my running, my ability to vent and blog, and needless to say, Susan and her girls have helped me heal some wounds that I initially thought would never heal. I do still look back and I cannot believe how my life has changed and continues to change. This is not a bad thing. Change means growth. I am also thinking about a new year where my focus is in front of me and not behind me. Don't get me wrong . . . I am not forgetful or ungrateful for my previous life. However, I do know that if I keep looking backwards, I will eventually run into a tree or ditch, figuratively speaking. The grief is still there but it is diminishing. The lows are becomming fewer and fewer and my funks are not as bad as they were earlier in this process. As I turn the corner into another new year, I am focusing on my life, my future, and whatever awaits me out there. I hope that whatever you do in life, whatever your quest is, that you attack it with every fiber in your body. We wait too long to realize that we've waited too long. My mom keeps telling me to enjoy my life . . . If I'm not doing what I want, I am wasting time. She's right. I think that what I am meant to do is to make others happy. We are all called to love each other and I challenge each of you to consider this in the upcoming year.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

have to make time

That is sort of the way it feels right now. As I mentioned in my previous post, I am staying busy. Too busy.

Last night I was in the multi-tasking mode. Started off picking up some last minute gifts, doing laundry, brining turkeys (yes, plural), wrapping gifts. Oh yeah . . . and I got a 6 mile run in too. I also managed to read a couple of chapters in my present read before bed.

6 mile run. What can I say? It was a needed stress reliever and for that reason, I ran without a watch. At times like these I am way too structured . . . working off of lists and lists of lists. I decided to relax and just run. This worked out for me and I felt much better when I finished than when I started. The first mile or so was a slow, worriesome job. I started clearing the mind and like magic, my body responded by "smoothing" out. After the second mile, I was running on all cylinders and my perceived effort was just slightly slower than 10k pace. My guess was I was running 8:20s but it really doesn't matter. I had fun.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

busy, busy, busy

Oh, by the way, did I tell you how busy I've been? Actually, I think that I am busy just being busy. Idle mind is the devil's playground and all that stuff.

Let me quickly catch up on my running. Is not blogging our runs like a tree falling in the woods? Does anyone hear it? Personally, I think it still counts!

Thursday- It was Susan's birthday so I ran at her house since we were going out to dinner. I just did a quick 4 miler. Nothing fancy. I turned each mile in the 8:20-8:30 range. Not fast but enough to make me breathe hard. It felt good.

Saturday morning- Another scheduled busy day so I decided to make this weekend a rest weekend. All that means is that I did not do a long run. I found from training earlier this year that if I take a rest weekend once every 4 weeks, I seem to bounce back better and can build at a steadier rate. All that said to simply say that I ran 6 miles Saturday morning. Susan came over and joined me for a few miles. The running I did with Susan was a fairly easy, enjoyable pace. After she dropped off, I picked up the pace a little bit. A very beautiful morning. We have been having a great streak of weather here in B'ham. 50s at night and low 70s during the day.

Sunday- After church, Susan and I went to the Lakeshore Trail for a run. Again, another great day . . . . low 70s and there were lots of people on the trail. We ran 5 miles together. After that, Susan was wanting to slow down and I was wanting to speed up. She sent me on my way and I ran a pretty quick 2 1/2 miler (1 1/4 out and back). I was especially pleased that I did the 2 1/2 with a negative split of 30 seconds.

Total weekend run - 13 1/2 miles. That will be my goal for this coming Saturday now that I have had a rest weekend.

Monday evening - My church was having their Christmas program so I was crunched for time. All I got in was 4 miles but I think it was okay. My legs were pretty tired. I am not accustomed to running three consecutive days and my body let me know it.

I hope everyone is doing well and enjoying your holiday season.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Rainy Tuesday

Just a quick post tonight.

It was a rainy afternoon and was not going to let up for me to get my run in after work. I really need to stick to my schedule and improve and increase. Since I have plans for Wed after work, I either had to lose ground on my training or run in the rain. Can you guess which I chose?

2 1/2 mile warm up

4 hill repeats (4 x 0.2) totaling .8 miles up and .8 miles down

1 miles cooldown.

Very wet and mid 60s. My legs were a little sore but I managed to get it done. Nothing to brag about but I got my miles in.

good night!

Recovery Monday

Yes, I am blogging from the office. No, this is not good but this is a quick one.

BTW, welcome to a new commenter, Courtney (my cousin). Girl, you must lead a pretty boring life to be out here reading my ramblings and rantings about running and life! As long as you're out here, be sure to check some of the links of my buds on the right hand side of the page. Phil is an exceptional writer and is my unofficial priest!

I did five miles last night at Susan's house. I went over for dinner and hit the road while she had taken MA to piano lessons. This was a recovery run but I did put a watch on it. Not fast but faster than previous recovery runs. Average pace of 8:40 per mile.

I want to do hills tonight but it is supposed to be raining pretty hard. I may wait and do my hills on Wednesday night.

Also, be sure to wish Susan a Happy Birthday. Her B'day is Thursday and she does check my blog and comments!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Long run Saturday

Hey everyone. It is Saturday evening and I am sitting here still catching up on Boston Legal. I went to Susan's for dinner tonight. She made Lasagna and it was yummy. The girls had had a full day, Susan has had a busy week. She took care of a friend's daughter for a few nights and the poor girl had gotten sick while Susan had her so Susan didn't get much sleep for a couple of nights. Then I kept her out late last night at my office party and then she decided to get up and run the village to village 5 mile run this morning. Needless to say, Susan was pretty wasted. We all wanted to stay and watch TV after dinner but recognizing all the sleepy girls, I took off and came home, encouraging them to hit the hay early. I am going to follow my own advice and hit the hay in a few minutes myself.

I am tired from my run today. A very good run. I have bumped my long run up to 12 miles. I know that it really isn't that long but it is longer than I've run in weeks. I waited until after lunch, giving me time to work in the yard and allowing it to warm up to the high 40s/low 50s.

I decided to enter the 21st century and bought a cheap MP3 player. Normally I don't like listening to the radio while I am running. However, these neat little gagdets can store digial music and I can put any song on it in any order . . . . hmmmmm. Maybe it is worth a try. I put the soundtrack Last of the Mohicans on it. Sounds great and I love that album. However, I spent more time trying to keep those little ear thingies in my ears. For those of you who run with MP3 players please let me know how you do it or what type of earphones you use. I bought some new ones tonight that hook over the ear . . . hopefully they'll work better.

Back to the run. I started off with a first lap slightly over 9 minute pace. Nice and comfy! The second lap was a little faster. The third lap was speeding up a little more. Suddenly Patrick (Fast Patrick) showed up. He said he was wanting to get 30 or 40 minutes in and wanted to run with me. I told him I was doing a long run and going slow. As usual, he said no problem and proceeded to run with me. He ran with me for about 4 loops (approx 5 miles) and of course he was running faster and I was trying to slow down. He finished up and left me with 2 1/2 loops left to go. I managed through them and felt pretty good about it!

Here's my splits on a 1.2 mile loop . I am not listing all my mile averages. Just remember that 10:48 on the 1.2 mile loop is a 9 minute pace. I have 2 loops slightly lower than a 9 minute pace. I have 2 loops at essentially at a 9 minute pace with the remaining loops (6 loops) at under a 9 minute pace.

Lap 1 10:59
Lap 2 10:38
Lap 3 10:45
Lap 4 10:48
Lap 5 10:34
Lap 6 10:22
Lap 7 10:23
Lap 8 10:29
Lap 9 10:40
Lap 10 10:55

1 hour 46 minutes and change for a 10:40 / loop average. My per mile average is 8:53.

All in all, I was pretty happy with the run. Now I am tired and going to bed!

Friday, December 08, 2006

Just a quick one

Hey all. It is a nice cold morning here in B'ham. Mid teens with windchills into single digits. Not a morning to be running. That's why I ran last night when it was a balmy 36 degrees! I actually wore two layers last night . . . what a wimp!

Last night was hill work. I know that Phil thinks I need to work more on base mileage but I think I'm doing okay with a little hill work.

2 1/2 miles warm up. I started off with a slow pace but increased to my speed to somewhere under 9 minute pace. The warm up did what is was supposed to do . . . got me sweating and let the legs get loose.

4 hill repeats. 0.2 miles on the hill. Like last week, I didn't put a watch on it. Instead I am merely working on form and consistency. I am also trying to alter my hilling style. I normally try to keep my stride and power up the hills which works when I'm in super great shape. However, I am back to building phase so I am working on shorter strides and higher turnover rate. I may use the style throughout my training. It seems to work.

1 mile cooldown. Literally. After the hills, I pulled off my wind shell since I was burning up from the hill repeats. Between running into the wind and only having on one layer, I quickly cooled off but my legs felt strong and I could have done another couple of miles! I guess I'll bump next weeks hill repeats up to 5 or 6 repeats.

Planning on 12 this Saturday. Have a great weekend!

Oh yeah, be sure to go to Shane's blog (Running in the Deep South) to read about his story of his first marathon. Congratulations Shane!

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Mid-week update

I'm sitting here catchin up on my TIVO of Boston Legal. I don't do much TV but I do like this one show-so I Tivo it. I am also doing laundry, paying bills, multi-tasking as it were.

I'd like to say welcome back to Phil. He had taken a haitus and his running advice and advice on life it much appreciated. He helped me get through this tough year, including a PR marathon in Cincinnatti and a blossoming relationship with Susan. Thanks, Phil.

Okay . . . . running. Besides life, death, and salvation, running is right up there in the top five things in life.

Monday night I thought I'd be able to fly through a recovery run. However, once out there, I just let my body tell me what pace to run. I didn't time it but I do know that it wasn't that fast, but that's okay. It was a recovery run. 5 miles in cold, windy weather. I actually wore long sleeves, vest, thin gloves, and head band to cover my ears. It was high 30's and dark when I started and the temp dropped 4 degress in the time it took me to run 5 miles. I know that it is not really that cold but something about the dark and wind that makes it feel colder.

Tonight I ran a 6 miler. I was needing a confidence booster. Didn't exactly get that done but it was a good workout. First mile was 9 minute pace. I then proceeded to take about 10 seconds off each mile thereafter except for the last mile which I used to cooldown. I saw Dom doing his hills and sprints. No way I was going with him!

Just a few weeks until Christmas. I hope everyone is being good!

Monday, December 04, 2006

Monday and COLD

I know that I need not whine about the weather. Heck, here in Alabama we really don't have it too bad in the winter but I still hate to walk out in the morning to 25 degrees and 10-20 mph wind (windchill 16). Not fun. I am already trying to decide if I need to wear something with sleeves when I run tonight.

I had a really good run Saturday afternoon. Saturday was a cold, windy day. It was sunny so that helped with the mental aspect. Susan and I did the Lakeshore trail starting about 1:00. The temp was in the low 50s at this time and that was warm compared to earlier that morning. I am still trying to help get Susan motivated and ready to run the Mercedes half-marathon in February here in B'ham. Not sure how good a job I am doing. Anyway . . . we ran the first 5.1 miles together. I let Susan set the pace which was somewhere around 10:30 miles, give or take. We enjoy the running together but we tend to chat and laugh and not really focus on training. We need to work on that! I ran the second 5.1 mile loop by myself. Susan was only going to do a couple of more miles so I took off with her blessing. I did the 2.51 "out" portion dead on a 9 minute pace. The return was into the wind but I was feeling good and picked it up just a little bit. I ended up running back in just under 22 minutes which puts me at about an 8:40 pace. I know that it is not fast but it did feel good to push it a little.

I am working on bumping my mileage up a little over the next several weeks. I still can't figure out what the deal was last week. You know . . . being sore and hurting. Just one of those things, I guess. I felt great this weekend and look forward to a nice week of running.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Thursday night

Hey all. It is Thursday night. Survivor is over and ER is about to come on, so I am doing a quick update.

My legs and back have been hurting the last couple of days. Might be from the miles that piled up over the last week or my back is just out of whack. We'll know eventually.

Wednesday night I did 4 miles. No watch. Legs were very sore. Hip was huring too. My right calf has also been giving me a bit of a problem this week. Everything has felt sort of out of whack.

Tonight I started back to doing my hill work. I warmed up with 2 1/2 miles. the 1st 1 1/4 was very slow, just working out the kinks. The second 1 1/4 was a little faster. Then I tackled the hill. The same hill I used earlier this year to help train my for my successful PR marathon. Might as well repeat the training from before, right? Starting slow, of course.
4 hill repeats. The hill is about .2 miles and pretty steep. I meant to get exact distance and grade last year but still have not done it. That is my assignment over the next week. I will be reporting mileage and grade. You know us engineering types . . . have to quantify everyting. Anyway, I ran it without a watch. Since I am just getting back to starting my hill work there is no need to have any added pressure. Just working on form and consistent speed. Did a cooldown of 1/2 mile. I also did an upper body workout with light weights.

I have to get back into shape!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

way behind

The bad thing about 4 day holiday weekends is that I get sort of lazy. How about you? I don't check email, I don't pay bills, I just put life on hold. Except for running and laundry. I have to run and I like to wear clean underwear so the running and laundry must go on!

Running report:

Thursday morning (Thanksgiving)-
I had decided to run the Monclair Run 10k (our local annual turkey trot). I knew I was going to be doing more running over the four days so I decide to not really push the pace. It was a nice sunny morning and the race started at 8:30 so the weather was nice . . . about 50 degrees. I always get a chuckle when I look at the folks wearing sweat shirts, sweat pants, and jackets. They don't have a clue and it always shows about mile 2 when they are all tying clothing around their waists. I was shorts, singlet and then gloves (which I tucked in my waistband before the first mile was over). The course has a couple of small hills but enough to effect pace. My fastest mile was dead on 8 minute pace and my slowest mile was 8:45. My average pace was 8:28. Slow for a 10k but like I said . . . I was not racing it. Afterwards, Susan and her two girls, MA and E, showed up to run the 1 mile fun run which is run AFTER the 10k. MA asked me to run with her since she was wanting to run faster. Susan ran with E and I agreed to run with MA. As we walked to the starting area, MA asked if we could run a 9 minute mile. "Sure" I said, knowing full well the 9 minute mile is a piece of cake. Then MA asked if we could run an 8 minute mile. "Hmmmmm . . . . I just ran 6.2 miles but I didn't push it. We should be able to do that!" I said confidently to a 10 year old girl, thinking that there is no way she could do that. THEN she asked if we could run a 7 minute mile. "Wow! You're awfully brave to be so short!" I chuckled, know that there is no way she can do it. We toed the line and took off at a pretty good clip. MA and I left Susan and E behind us. I was having to remind MA to breathe slow and deep (she has a little asthma). I knew we were running pretty hard but I was letting her set the pace. As we approached the turn around point (1/2 mile) I noticed that there were only maybe a dozen people in front of us. We hit the turn around point in 3:15. I'm thinking to myself "we cannot keep up this pace, either MA or I will pass out!". However, I did not share my feelings with MA. Instead, I kept encouraging her and cheering her on, staying slightly behind off her right shoulder. As we approached the finish area, 4 spectators (big cow people) stepped off the curb and into the chute area! Can you believe it? We had to come to a dead stop. I yelled (sort of) at the people who didn't have a clue what they had just done. We worked our way around them and ran on to the finish live. 7:06 mile. That is a pretty good mile for me and I'm sure it was a good workout for MA. I figure we would have broken 7 minute mile if the cow people had not stepped in our path. I assured MA that she would have run about a 6:55 . . . Nothing like the grin of a cute 10 year girl! Susan and E surprised MA and me. We back tracked to watch them finish. I told MA that they would probably be running 10-10 1/2 minute mile. We saw them quicker than I had expected and they clocked a 9 1/2 minute mile. Not a problem for Susan but pretty good for E who is 6 years old and would prefer to look at the bugs along the way than to bear down on a one mile run!

Friday afternoon-
We had every intention of doing a 10 miler on Lakeshore trail. It was a pretty afternoon but the legs and back were a little sore from Thursday's run. We did a slightly longer loop so our round trip was between 5 1/2 and 6 miles. We decided to call it quits when we got back to the car. My legs just were not moving that well and the back was a little bit tight. Still, we had a good time and it was some mileage to add to the week.

Off! Rested. We did do some hiking. We took the girls to my parents house for brunch and then walked in the woods for a little while. Then we went to Blount county for a self-guided tour of covered bridges and a side trip to a local park that sits on top of a rock outcropping on top of a mountain. Very pretty and scenic and we saw rock climbers and rapellers (sp?). A good day to just walk around and knock the spider webs off my legs.

Sunday afternoon-
After church, we loaded up in the truck and went to kill a Christmas tree for Susan. After about an hour of walking through hundreds of evergreens, the girls picked a tree. We cut it down, had it loaded and took it to Susan's house. I helped them put it up and decorate it. I have to admit it was sort of strange . . . I have decided that I was not going to do anything at my house. Not really in the mood. Anyway, after the tree lighting ceremony, we decided to go out for a few miles. MA wanted to run and bike with me and E went with Susan. Susan has a 1 mile loop in her neighborhood the circles by her house . . . very convenient. I ran four miles. MA biked mile 1 and 3 and ran miles 2 and 4. The biggest thrill was when MA and I caught E and Susan. We were starting our fourth loop and caught them on their third loop! It was all I could do to keep MA in check when we spotted them a block away. I convinced her that we would catch them and got her to slow down a bit. We passed them and headed to the house. MA enjoyed standing in the driveway and asking her mom "where have you been?". A fun afternoon.

Monday night-
Legs are still a little sore but I know that I have to get some miles in. I got started a little later than normal so it was almost dark when I walked out the door. I had planned on 5 miles slow but I ran into Dom "The Dominator" doing is recovery run. He is training like a mad man right now and he was needing some rest so we ran some very slow loops in the 9:15 avg range. I got six miles in and it seemed to help work the soreness out of my legs.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006


Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Nobody is in the office . . . except me. I exaggerate . . . there are actually about 10 of us here and it is sort of laid back so I'm actually blogging at work. Shame on me.

I ran a 5 miler in the dark and cold last night. I never could get a good rhythm going. I ran without my watch since it was a recovery run from Sunday's long run. I'm not sure why I never got my groove last night. I guess things just pile up. The cold. The dark. My mind racing about all the things I need to do. I guess the big salad I had at lunch didn't help much either since I felt it bouncing around in there. I will just chalk it up as one of those days when you run for the sake of running. Normally, I feel better after a run . . . clear my head, stuff like that. Not last night. I guess I was just going through the motion.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I will, as I do most years, start the day by running our local Turkey Day run 10K. I'm not going to race it since I am plannning on doing 10-12 miles on Friday. This is normally just a social run except for the high school and college kids and the skinny guys who freeze in the colder weather. This race normally draws a pretty good crowd. One year we had close to 600 people. There is also a 1 mile turkey trot that Susan is thinking about doing with her girls.

On a serious note-
Everyone needs to take time tomorrow to step away from your runs, meals, festivals, football games and spend a moment reflecting on the holiday. The origins of the holiday is basically a celebration of life and survival
However, we do have so much to be thankful for today. We are a blessed people and we need to take the time to reflect on that. We need to make sure that we take the time to share the origins of the holiday with our children and to let them know that our gratitude to our Creator extends through the generations. Please take time to be truly thankful.

Everyone have a great holiday weekend and keep up the running!

Monday, November 20, 2006

too busy to post

I have been bad . . . again. Forgive me, it was long weekend.

First . . . everyone commenting-BEHAVE! For those who have not figured it out, Anonymous (most of the time) is my parents. They love me dearly but do not understand my desire to run. Heck, I don't understand my desire to run! I think it a compulsive behavior disorder of some sorts . . . I have to be doing something. Better than running than drinking myself into a stupor every night or shoving a needle in my arm. I always have and always will be fighting with the weight issue. I am not a fatty but I do tend to let the overindulgence of life overtake the discipline of fitness. One of my many demons.

Now let's talk about running-

Thursday night was miserable weather. I know it's not an excuse but after getting home and finding a message from FEDEX that I needed to come to their place to pick up a package, it was all the excuse I needed not to run. It was mid 40s and raining and I was fighting a headcold last week. No run Thursday but I did run to FEDEX and pickup my tickets to the Auburn Alabama game for Saturday.

Friday I did a quick 4 miler. Normally I would have run a 6 miler or so but I knew what was coming up for the weekend and wanted to spread out the mileage. A good start to the weekend.

Saturday. The big day. Auburn and Alabama neither had very good seasons this year but it is still the big rivalry game and I HAVE TICKETS! Susan and I going to the game and it will be a long day. Susan came over early Saturday morning and we ran 30 minutes before cleaning up and heading to Tuscaloosa. This was going to be an interesting day . . . . I am an Auburn fan and Susan is an Alabama fan. Oil and water. Oh yes, I must mention that Auburn has won 4 in a row and has not lost a game while visiting Tuscaloosa. Most of the bammers (Alabama fans) I know felt confident that this year things would change. Here's a few pictures from the day-

Here we are after a day of eating and drinking and visiting friends but right before going into the stadium. As you can tell I am wearing orange and blue (the good guys) and Susan is in her crimson (the bad guys).

Here is Susan before the game. She is happy. We are on her campus where she went to school. We are in her stadium where she has seen Alabama win so many games in the past. At this point in time she is thinking that her team is going to kick my teams butt. Do not ask here what is in her coke!!!

Her I am prior to the game. One a few Auburn fans sitting in this section. I am hopeful but dreading an Alabama win. It is just a game. It does not matter who wins. It is a pretty day, we're having fun, it is a nice campus and stadium. It is ashame that we have to ruin it with a football game.

Right before kickoff. The Auburn team is coming out of the tunnel, having to run past the Alabama cheerleaders and that big red banner. Yuck. The game was exciting and back and forth. To be truthful, Alabama played a good game but as most people thought, the team the made the most mistakes would lose. Alabama had four turnovers and Auburn had one.

The outcome was better than I had hoped. Auburn won 22-15. A nice close game that was sealed with a David Irons interception with less than a minute left to end Alabama's drive to tie up the game. Whew! Nothing better than listening to the Auburn crowd singing Rammer Jammer to the Alabama crowd. For those of you who don't know it, Rammer Jammer is a song that bammers sing after each game to insult the losing team. There's a line in the song along the lines of "we just beat the hell out of you". Very controversial song that the University "officially" does not endorse and discourages but bammers still do it. It is so much fun to be able to turn it around and give it back to them! Five wins in a row and Auburn still has not lost in Alabama's house. Sorry to the bammers out there . . . . you'd be bragging had you won so give me my moment!

Back to running-
Sunday. Today I am doing my long run since I didn't do it on Saturday. After church, lunch, and going to Susan's daughter's (MA) basketball game, we went to the Lakeshore trail for a long run. It was cold (mid 40s), cloudy, and windy. Not a very nice day for a run but run we must. I did a 10 miler and Susan did about 8 miles. We ran together for the first 5 miles and then I decided to speed up while Susan wanted to do some more. Normally she is good for 5 or 6 miles but she wanted to add a little. She enjoyed her run as did I. However, I think that she is going to sore and tired but that is what training is all about, isn't it? My 10 was fun and easy. I could tell I was a little tired since I am still fighting the remnants of a headcold. However, I was never in doubt of my pace or finishing.

A nice three day stretch. About 17 miles in less than a 48 hour stretch and that is throwing in a long football Saturday in the middle of it. I'm happy about it!

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

You are correct

Phil's comments are correct. And I have sort of planned to do some shorter races. I am doing our Turkey Day Run 10k here in B'ham next week. We also have a club year end half-marathon that I'm planning on doing. I am also going to do the half in the Mercedes scheduled in Feb here in B'ham. I guess the only way to be successful is to repeat what made me successful last year. I am going to do the slow buildup. I have proven to myself and the world that I cannot just pick it up on a 12 or 16 week plan. I figure if I'm able to do 10s and 12s right now, I should be in good shape by April. Nashville Music City Marathon????

Last night I had a pretty nice run. I ran a couple of miles solo and my buddy Chip joined me. He was doing a 10 miler (his marathon is a couple of weeks away) and I was doing a 6. It was nice to have the company and we discussed everything from work, his daughter's sweep of all the first place medals at last weeks gymnastic meet, and Susan's daughter MA and her soccer career.

We continuously picked up the pace and it felt pretty good. Lap 4 was slightly slower-Chip thought we were on the way to a 10 minute lap so we slowed a little bit.

Here's the run-
lap 1 (1.2 miles): 10:55 9: 06 mile This was a warm up.
lap 2 (1.2 miles): 10:34 8:49 mile
lap 3 (1.2 miles): 10:18 8:35 mile
lap 4 (1.2 miles): 10:21 8:37 mile
lap 5 (1.2 miles): 10:07 8:26 mile

8:42.5 avg pace.
Nothing spectacular but I am starting to see an improving trend

As mentioned earlier, I have let my weight slip up and the Fat Man is catching me again. I have allowed myself to slip from a nice comfortable 34 pant size back into my old 36 (thank goodness I kept a few pair laying aroung). This is embarrassing and I expect you to hold me accountable!

Here's the FATMAN watch: 197.6 this morning.

Monday, November 13, 2006

Amy . . . be patient!

Yes . . . I am addressing Amy. Her comment about me posting my weight was a cold reminder of the FATMAN over my shoulder. I will be posting it tomorrow.

Here is tonight's workout-

100 situps
5 mile run. This was a recovery run for me. Average 9:00 pace.
Worked out. Light weights.

I have decided to can Huntsville (Rocket City) marathon. As you know, marathoning is all about mind, body, and spirit all coming together in a crescendo. My spirit says "go ahead . . . you can run it in survival mode". The body says "maybe we can give it a try but it might hurt". Fortunately, I am a GLASS IS HALF EMPTY kind of guy. That means the mind has analyzed what the spirit and body are trying to conspire. The mind knows better and will not let it happen. There are many more marathons and I want to do well like I did this past spring. I'll be thinking about it and inform you later what I decide.

Chilly weekend

I know, I know . . . I live in Alabama and we really don't get cold weather here. However, when you go from 80 degrees to low 40s in a days time, it seems chilly. Especially when the when is blowing 15-20 mph day and night. Actually, I have no clue why I am rambling on about the weather. Maybe it is just the fact that there was frost on the grass this morning.

Let's see . . . . Thursday I ran a short quick 4 miler. That was about all I wanted to do. I was still a little zonked from the quick trip to Vidalia. I was out of bed at 4:30 am and the plane was on the way to Vidalia at 6:00. Spent a full day at the plant in meetings and a couple of walkdowns. For those who are not familiar with the term "walk down" let me clarify. When we design engineering types need to gather information for our design work we sometimes need to gather this information directly from the field (plant site). Not all the information we need is shown on drawings so we have to go to those specific areas in the plant to perform a walk down (take photos, measurements, data gathering). Sometimes these areas are easily accessible . . . sometimes not. Thursday's work was in areas not so easily accessed . . . lots of climbing, changing clothes etc. Bottom line is that it was a long day. 4 miles was enough after a full day of steel toed boots and lots of walking.

Saturday morning was a little bit misty and windy but it was 70 degrees when I started my run. I was wanting to do 12 but I overslept and was pushed for time so I cut it short at 10.8 miles. It was a bit of a slow and sluggish run. Not sure why but there it is. I averaged a 9:10 pace. I was a little disappointed but I did get the run in. Maybe it was the fact that I was still dragging a bit and had lots on my mind. Sometimes I just can't run as well when I'm distracted. Though I averaged 9:10 pace overall, I consistently sped up throughout the run. I guess this coincided with the drop in the temperature. The temp dropped about 12 degrees in 99 minutes. Strange run . . . I started off slow and sweating like a pig but after the first few miles, I started speeding up and stopped sweating so much. Go figure.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Back to work . . .

in more ways than one!

Back from the beach and back to my job. I love my job-it keeps me from having to live under the interstate bridge. It puts food on my table or more accurately, in my ever expanding belly. It lets me enjoy these trips and outings that I enjoy going on. I will not complain about my job. I've been here 25 years. I guess it is like the TV show survivor . . . "Outwit, Outplay, Outlast".

Oh yeah. Back to work in my running too. The good run I had Saturday while at the beach sort of inspired me. I was needing that. I ran a decent 5 miler Monday night. I didn't see any of my running chums. However, I did see Shelly for a few minutes. I stopped and chatted with her to get the latest. She is starting her training for the Nashville Music City Half. I have been thinking about this race and may have to study up on it. Susan has also expressed interest in this on. Anyone else out there familiar with this race? Any feedback would be appreciated.

On another note, here are several items of interest:
Starting next week expect a new look to this site. I am not changing the website but I am going to be changing the content. As much as I enjoy telling the tales of my life, I am going to get back to more detail in my training. After reviewing the months of blogging leading up to my successful marathon this past spring, I realize that this is an effective training tool IF USED PROPERLY. I am going to start boring you with details such as splits, distances, times, weather, etc. That is not to say I won't talk about personal things such as dinner, wine, relationships. I am just going to kick things into another gear.

The FATMAN has not only been sneaking up on me, he has jumped on my back and is riding me to the asphalt, face first. I have to get rid of the FATMAN. I am also going to start posting my morning weight. Naked of course. This all has to do with the accountability thing. If I continue having problems with the FATMAN, I may start journaling my meals (a Weight Watchers trick).

I am going to attempt to get Susan started with her own blog. Hey Susan . . . I know you don't want to do it but it is helpful and I am sure that you would quickly build a fan base. Any ideas for a blog name for Susan? Here are several ideas that I had . . .
"Smiles and miles"
"Running Susan"
"Diary of (fill in the blank)"

Ultimately, Susan will have to decide if she wants to dabble in this and she also will decide the blog name. Thanks for any input!

Monday, November 06, 2006

The last several days

Hey all,
As you know, I went to the beach for a long weekend. Here's the running news and other stuff you've come to expect-

Thursday morning before leaving for the beach, I ran a fairly nice and quick 5 miler. No watch, but just running by feel. It was nice and cool and I felt fast and strong. No sense in letting watch ruin that for me!

Susan came to the house, we loaded up the car, and headed towards Seaside, FL. We stopped off in Montgomery to eat lunch with Susan's sister Laura. After lunch we rolled on down US 331 and arrived in Seaside around 3:30 or so. We got checked in, went to our rental house "Our Place by the Sea" and unloaded the car.

Here's a picture of the house. Porches on all the important rooms and a tower to watch sundown. If you have not been to this town, I highly recommend that you rent a cottage and spend a long weekend. You'll never want to go anywhere else.

We barely had time enough to go up in the tower of the house to watch the sunset. We climbed the ladder at 4:40 with our camera, a bottle of wine, and great anticipation. Here's a view of the sunset and us at 4:50.

After sunset we changed clothes and went to our first event of the weekend. We went to Seaside for the "Seeing Red" wine festival. We had a dinner with the vintners at Great Southern Cafe. This was a very nicely arranged dinner. Five course meal + dessert, all paired with different wines. Let me see if I can recall . . . .

Scallops with Sav Blanc
Shrimp with Chardonnay
Merlot with Peking Duck
Zinfandel (red of course) with Roast Beef
Cab Sauv with Lamb
Cab Port with a bitter chocolate cake and cinammon ice cream

Friday was an off day. No running. Actually, we did a short run through Seaside . . . maybe a mile or so just to look at the houses and get the blood flowing. Then we went for a short bike ride. Afterwards we did some shopping and just goofing around town. We had planned on having a picnic on the beach in Grayton Beach State Park. We packed up some turkey sandwiches, chips, grapes, cookies and a nice bottle of wine. Stuffed it all in a back pack along with a blanket and biked to the state park early Friday afternoon. Here's some pictures-

Me on my hybrid bike at the entrance to the state park. Back pack is loaded and heavy. Our goal is to EAT and DRINK everything in the bag!

Susan on her bike. See how she is smiling. Could it be that she is happy or just glad that I'm the one with the back pack? Or maybe she's looking forward to the turkey sandwiches and the $100 bottle of wine we're about to open!

I know . . . this looks like a repeat from our Portland trip. Actually, the photo I posted from the Portland trip was just a spur of the moment thing. Phil really saw more in the other picture and we think so also. We have decided that this will be "our thing" and one of our standard pictures whenever we go to a a beach. Thanks Phil!

Susan saying "hey all". The beach was great! The weather was a little bit cool but not bad. There was nobody on the beach when we got there around 1:00. A couple of fisherman showed up around 2:00 but this was like having our own private dining room in the Florida panhandle.

Yes, I am breaking the rules. Normally, I do not feed the wildlife but we decided to have a little fun with the seagulls. We started with one. Then three. We started naming them until we got up to 45 gulls!

After the picnic, we headed back to Seaside and dumped the bag. Then we headed to Water Colors and hit some more shops. Did I mention that we make a great couple? We both like to shop!!!

After the shopping, we headed back to the house to watch sundown. We climbed up the tower . . . check this out-here's how we had to get up into the tower. Try doing this with crackers, cheese, wine, glasses. You get the idea.

We spent about an hour eating cheese, eating crackers, drinking wine and reading our books. BTW, I am reading a depressing book but I have to finish it. It is called "The Road". I recommend it if you are strong enough. It is a story of post apacolyptic America . . . or what is left of it.

After sundown, we went to Cafe Thirty-A, one of the nicer restaurants in the area. We had a very nice dinner and Susan saw one her friends and we chatted for a while. After dinner, we headed back to the house and played checkers and scrabble . . . . REALLY!

Saturday morning. Time for a long run. I know you've been bored with all this other stuff and have been waiting to hear about my running. We wanted to get an early start since the wine festival started at noon. Susan wanted to run for a little bit so here's what we did. We left the house and ran down the beach trail for 22 1/2 minutes. We ran Susan's pace since she is also training for the Mercedes half. We turned around and ran back to the house. We did not run a negative split so we ended up running a total of about 46 1/2 minutes. I figured we covered between 4 1/2 and 5 miles. After we got to the house, we took a potty break and Susan jumped on the bike and we took off. She rode while I ran and it was nice to have the company. I do know that I have a 2 1/2 mile mark on the trail where I go out and back for 5 milers. We picked up the pace and turned 2 1/2 miles in about 21 minutes. After we turned around and headed back, I told Susan that I wanted to pick up the pace. Boy howdy did I!!!! I turned the 2 1/2 miles coming back in 17:45. I think that I averaged a little bit over a 7 minute pace the last 2 1/2 miles. Not quite a full 10 miler but I think we did pretty stinking good! We were running and biking hard and cooking.

After showering, we went shopping briefly and got back in time to choke down another turkey sandwich before going to the festival. The wine festival was from noon to 4:00 and we got started as soon as possible. There were plenty of vendors and a few tables of h'odouvres. We made the rounds and tried some names we were familiar with and some labels that we had never seen. Here's some pictures we took along the way . . . .

This was right when we started. Notice that we are standing erect.

just a quick view of some of the things we saw. A nice sunny day and lots of sampling to do!

Here we are about half way through the tasting. Yes, I am grinning like a big old goober. Am I happy? Am I tipsy? Could it be that I just heard that Alabama got beat by Mississippi State? (Sorry Susan and Laura). BTW, this is were we go to church on Sundays when we're down there. Does it look like we ran/biked 10 miles 4 hours earlier?

We finished our tasting a little after 3:00. We headed back to the house and rested up. Actually, we turned on the Tennessee-LSU game and sort of napped thru the game. When the game was over, we decided to walk around town and find something to eat. We ended up and joint called Pickles. They do burgers, fries, etc. Stuff for walkups from the beach. A nice big greasy cheeseburger was SO GOOD!!! Afterwards, we headed back to the house and played more scrabble. Don't ask who won.

Sunday morning we packed up, went to breakfast, and then went to church. IT is so nice to go to church while you're on vacation . . . it really is like a breath of fresh air. The associate minister that preached did an excellent job and we really enjoyed our last hour in Seaside in church. After church, we jumped in the car, checked out and headed north back to B'ham. That was our trip!!!

Monday, October 30, 2006

I hate the time change

Hey to all,
It is Monday evening, Oct. 30. The time has changed back to standard time and lots of us will now be running in the dark after work. Be safe. Use your reflective gear and/or you LED lights. What a drag. I have my LED headlight and my blinking red safety lights so I'm set. I just don't enjoy running in the dark. But what to do? I could run during lunch but then I'd sit in my cubicle (yes, my true identity is Dilbert) and sweat. I could shift my work hours except my employer isn't that flexible. I'll manage. I always have, always will.

Here's a quick rundown of the last few days to catch you up-

I got back from Vidalia Thursday afternoon. Sorry Amy . . . would have enjoyed a run and lunch in Macon over the weekend but I had to get home! I know you understand that mentality. The trip home was uneventful. Three guys in a car driving through Atlanta. That was it. BORING. By the time I got home, it was pouring down rain. You guessed it-I had to get a run in. It was surprisingly enjoyable. The temperature was not bad and once you're wet, you're wet. I did a 5 miler and a at decent clip.

Friday, I did not run but I did take a half day from work to play in a golf tournament. It was a fund raiser for American Cancer Society in memory of one of my friend's father. Had to play it-a bad day on the golf course is better than any day in the office (unless you're getting promoted). We played in the rain. However, we had a good time and the money raised goes to a good cause.

Saturday was a planned busy day. Susan's eldest daughter, MA, had a birthday party Friday night. She's turning 10 on Nov. 1. As part of her party, she had 12 of her friends spend the night at Susan's house. Susan had also wanted to go to University of Alabama homecoming on Saturday for the parade and tailgating (not overly excited about that since I am an Auburn fan). We didn't have tickets but it didn't matter since they were playing Sisters of the Weak and Poor. The plan was to then come back to B'ham for MA's afternoon soccer game. Here's how it went-

I got out of bed at 5:30 am Saturday morning and headed to Susan's because I had told Susan that I would help her feed thirteen, 9 and 10 year old girls and help her get twelve of them out of the house by 8:00 so we could drive to Tuscaloosa. I am flipping pancakes at 6:30 Saturday morning.

Author's note:
I had originally posted a picture of a a 10 year old's birthday party breakfast with her friends. However, I was reminded that I am using unauthorized pictures of the girls and this upsets some parents very much. I would have loved to have shown you the pictures of 9 and 10 year old girls having fun, eating smiley face pancakes but I guess on some level it makes sense to not post the pictures. I am not a parent and will never be a parent so it is tough for me to wrap my 47 year old brain around this kind of stuff.

We fed them the perfect breakfast . . . . pancakes, whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and Mountain Dew!!! (just kidding about the Mountain Dew). I'm sure there were some grumpy girls by Saturday afternoon!

We got the kids out of the house by 8:30. Some of the parents were running late picking them up but it was okay. Susan had wanted to be in Tuscaloosa by 9ish and it is normally about an hour drive. Not a problem. Cram her girls in the car, get on the interstate, drink some coffee and drive 100 mph! To be fair to Susan she drove nicely and only hit 100 a couple of times! Most of the time it was closer to 90. I begged her to slow down but I only got the dazed look of a mother who had just had 13 young girls in her house the night before. I think she mumbled something like . . . "if you want to slow down, get out". We made it to Tuscaloosa in one piece and onto the parade route in time to see the whole thing. Here's some pictures-

Susan, E and MA standing if front of what the Bammers call the million dollar band. Can you tell my enthusiasm about being at an ALABAMA event is overwhelming?

This is Big Al. Alabama's moscot. An elephant for those of you who do not live in the southeast. Yep, I've always thought it was sort of silly too. You can barely see Susan (facing Big AL) and E in her pink jacket. I guess it is exciting if you're an Alabama fan. I know Susan is going to give me a ration of crap about dissing her team. Sorry Susan and Laura . . . I AM an Auburn fan.

We spent several hours watching the parade which consisted of various clubs, classes and drunk frat boys on flatbed trailers. College, nothing like it. After the parade, we met up with Susan's sister Laura and her husband Woody and their kids. I've met Laura before and we get along great. Very nice lady. This was my first time to meet Woody and we seemed to hit it off well. He has invited me down to Montgomery to play golf. According to Susan, he does not do that very often. Chalk one up for the home team. Of course he knows that I suck on the golf course and he may see me as easy pickings on some progressive wagering.

We then went to the Quad (open park area in the center of campus). This is the designated area for parties, riots, vomiting, whatever. We met up with some friends of Laura and Woody and Susan. They had a nice big spread of food and drinks. They had their satellite dish and big screen TV set up and I watched bits and pieces of the Auburn-Ole Miss game. We hung around and ate their food and Susan drank their bloody marys. I did not imbibe since I had planned to run a 10 miler that afternoon at home. Probably a mistake . . . drink other people's liquor whenever you get a chance.

As the crowd was headed to the stadium, we headed to the car. Parking off campus seemed like a good idea in the morning but at 1:00 in the afternoon after the temperature had gotten up, it didn't seem like such a good thing to do. My guess was that the car was about 2 miles from the Quad. Normally, a 2 mile hike is no big deal. However, E (the 6 year old) was dragging and not very enthusiastic about walking. MA was busting a gut to get to the car to make it back to her soccer game. I can't blame her-it was her last game of the regular season and she enjoys it som much. Needless to say, it was much more expediant to put E on my shoulders and hike to the car. We would probably still be in Tuscaloosa had we all hiked. BTW, I am going to take extra credit for toting 50 extra pounds on my shoulders for 2 miles!

Due to Susan's bloody mary consumption, I drove back to B'ham. She was not intoxicated but no risk in getting a DUI, especially if she was going to drive 90 mph. Besides, I am a control freak and it just made me feel better to drive. We made it home and got MA to her soccer game just a little bit late but it was okay.

After the soccer game I told Susan that she was on her own the rest of the day. I had to get my run in and rest. I high tailed it home and got to running by 4:00. Again, I listened to the second half of the Alabama game. Listening to their announcer, Eli Gold, is like having dental work done. He's irritating but distracting and I managed to get 10 miles in at a 9 minute pace. The run wasn't exciting but I did recover much quicker and decided to go out to dinner (yes, all by myself).

Sunday, after going to church with Susan and the girls, I finished the doghouse (for Sam) I was working on. As you may know, I asked the girls to design it. The big thing that they wanted was a front porch. On a doghouse? Yep. The shingles look crappy because it was just a hair over a bundle and I had matched the shingles to Susan's house. I had mixed in some old shingles that she had left over. The red is paint we had left over from painting her picnic table. The gray is the collor of the floor of the screened in porch. The porch rails are . . . . well, put your own words on it!
Here it is-

After completing the doghouse, we started carving pumpkins. Afterall, it is almost Halloween. We each had a pumpkin we had picked out a couple of weeks ago. I have a kit and some patterns so we all picked out a pattern. Actually, I just did an mean face. After seeing the patterns the women picked out, I figured I had better get mine done quickly so I could help them out. However, everyone pretty much did their own. I did help MA a little and Susan helped E. Here are the pumpkins-

MA did the pumpkin with the stacks of pumpkins, E did the cat face, Susan did the ghost and haunted house. Mine was just a boring scary face.

Oh yeah . . . . running. I ran 5 easy miles tonight and will push a 5 or 6 miler tomorrow evening. I will probably ditch Halloween since I have not bought candy yet. I will probably just turn out the lights. I will be upstairs packing. I am going on another trip to Seaside. The last beach trip of the year. It is the red wine festival! Susan and I are renting a house and going to enjoy and indulge from Thursday afternoon to Sunday afternoon. We will bike and run to make up for our bad behavior! This is an adults only trip and we are looking forward to getting away together. I'll post for another day or two. I may even take my laptop with me so we can check email and update my blog!!!

Monday, October 23, 2006

SAfely arrived

I am sitting here in Holiday Inn Express ( I guess that makes me an expert???) in Vidalia, GA. The trip was uneventful as usual and got in town around 5:30. Immediately stripped and laced 'em up. I also put on running clothes! The temperature here was pretty cool with a very brisk wind. I did the 5k cross country trail + 9 minutes so I'm sure I got in about 4 miles. That's all I needed for several reasons-

1) it was cold
2) today is a recovery run
3) I had two others waiting on me to go to dinner

Tomorrow will be a long day at the plant and will be spending a lot of time on my feet.

Hope you all have a good week!

Saturday's run

I finally got off my duff and did a short "long run". I had hoped to run it in the morning but after a late evening the night before and a chilly early morning, I decided to sip coffee and piddle around on Saturday morning. I did go to Susan's girls' soccer games but I had plenty of time to run beforehand. I just didn't do it. However, after the games and roofing the doghouse, I headed home to get my run in.

What a beautiful afternoon. The temps never got above 70 and there was a slight breeze. I started my run a little after 4:00 when the shadows were just starting to lengthen. As much as I hate running with a radio, I decided that I would listen to the second half of the Alabama-Tennessee game. This worked out almost perfectly. There was only a minute left in the game when I had finished my run and the game had been decided. Dom joined me after about 2 1/2 miles and said he was wanting to get 8 or 9 miles in. He tuned into the game on his ipod thingy so we just pretty much ran together in silence listening to the game letting out an occassional grunt or chuckle as the game progressed. We ran a pretty nice pace. Nothing fast but enough to let me know I had worked. My average pace was right at 8:55. We did have a few faster miles thrown in in the middle of the run . . . 8:45 pace. This was a very nice run. Thanks for the company Dom!

oh yeah . . . . the distance was 10.8 miles. 9 times around on my 1.2 mile loop.

I'm heading to Vidalia, GA today for work and will hopefully get in a couple of cross country runs while there. Probably won't post until I get home on Thursday.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Yes, I run too

Just a quick post to update my running this week. Sunday afternoon's run beat me up pretty good, thanks to Patrick. I took Monday off due to the rain . . . thank goodness because my legs were sore! I ran 5 miles on Tuesday but it was still basically a recovery run. I don't wear a heartrate monitor but I could tell whenever I started pushing my pace below 9 minutes I'd start struggling and working way too hard. Very unusual for me but as I said about Sunday, it was a very hard run for me.

Last night I ran another 5 miles. It felt much better and I was running in the 8:40 range. I was wanting to do some hill work but decided I better not since it was pouring down rain and the hill I like to run on has some traffic on it. Didn't want to get hit by someone paying more attention to the rain and wipers than to the road. No sense in putting myself in too much danger! I did enjoy the run in the rain. The temperature was low 70s and the rain made it feel cooler. I actually sped up the entire run with my last loop being my fastest at 8:28 mile. I know that is not fast but it is showing improvement after my layoff with the tendonitis. Oh yeah, the fat man has been chasing and catching me. I've got to start picking up the miles and pushing back from the table!

Scheduled for 12 tomorrow but will be happy to get in the 10 that I ended up missing this past weekend.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Portland Trip . . . a long read

Hey all,
I have finally gotten around to getting home, doing laundry, knocking down the spider webs, and FINALLY to catch up my blog.

As you know, I couldn't run the Portland Marathon. Tendonitis. Bummer. However, I decided to go ahead and make the trip just to get out of town. Susan went with me. I had invited her to go with me for the marathon . . . no reason to uninvite her, just because I was not running. Besides, we have too much fun together.

We flew out Friday mid-morning. The flight was uneventful . . . everything was on schedule and went surprisingly smooth. We pretty much sat on the plane, read and did Sudoku. I did, however, get sneezed on by an Asian man who didn't know how to cover his face. YUCK. Thank goodness I always load up on Vitamin C and Airborne before I get on a flight.

We arrived in Portland, picked up the luggage and rental car. Mustang convertible. SWEET. I asked Susan if she wanted the top up or down. The vote was a resounding DOWN. Nothing like topless motoring on a beautiful 70 degree day.

Made it into town and to the hotel with no problems. We decided to attack town for the few hours of daylight we had left. We were located in the Pioneer Courthouse Square area. In case you're not familiar, that is where Saks, Tiffany, and at least 10 other stores (whose names I couldn't pronounce) reside. We walked around a while then hopped the free train (fare less square-neat idea. Socialism at its best) and went to a place called Hubers This is the oldest restaurant and bar in Portland. A neat place that specializes in Spanish coffee. We met my former B.I.L. Cary and his wife Loretta for dinner at a nice place called Henry's Tavern. I had Sushi and fish & chips-strange combination. Susan had a sandwich and salad. Loretta had already met Susan and they got along great. This was Cary's first meeting with Susan. I could tell he wasn't exactly comfortable but he was friendly and we all enjoyed dinner.

Saturday morning we got up, had b'fast in the hotel. Not smart. Something magical about hotel restaurants-everything on the menu costs 10.99. Coffee . . . . 10.99. Bagel . . . . 10.99. Cup of fruit . . . . 10.99. You get the idea. I also bothered me a little bit hanging around the lobby seeing all the runners the day before the race. After b'fast, we headed out 26 west to the beach.

Cannon beach is where all the locals go and we decided we wanted to see the Pacific. Once there, Susan stated her opinion that you can't count it as going to the beach unless you stick your feet in the water. Hmmmm . . . . it was in the high 50s that morning at the beach. NW Pacific Ocean . . . melted ice from Canada and Alaska.

Let's kick off the shoes and try it.
Yep . . . the water is about 40 freaking degrees!!! Thanks, Susan, for freezing my a$$ off.

We picked up a couple of stones for E and MA and walked down the beach a mile or so and found a place to eat lunch. After lunch we walked back into town and hit the shops. We stopped mid-afternoon and started heading toward Tillamook.

Tillamook is a town about 35 miles or so to the south. We drove along the beach road with the top down. It was chilly but we enjoyed it. The scenery along the highway is spectacular! See below!

We were quickly running out of time and stopped in the dairy/cheese factory in Tillamook. Did a quick look around, sampled some cheese (I love Tillamook cheese), and got a small ice cream cone before we blasted off back to Portland. We were in a bit of a rush because Susan had made reservations for dinner that evening. You see, Sunday was my birthday and we already had plans to have dinner with Cary and Loretta, so Susan was treating me on Saturday night. We made it back to Portland, did a quick spit-shine to clean up and headed to the bus stop. Susan had spoken with the Concierge at the hotel to determine which bus, what time, etc. would get us to the restaurant. All I can say it that if you’re not used to buses and schedules, do not attempt this on your own. Evidently, what the Concierge told Susan and what the bus lines actually did were two different things. The bottom line is that we’re standing at the stop, dressed for dinner, waiting for bus #17. Waiting. Frustrated. Waiting. Irate. Waiting. Panicked. We finally said screw it and we caught a cab to dinner.

Dinner Saturday night was very nice. Susan did a good job in finding a local restaurant. It was small and cozy. The name of the restaurant is Filberts They gave us some champagne for my birthday and the staff was very cordial and welcoming. Susan had risotto and crab and I had pork chop. I know, I’m in the northwest and I didn’t get salmon. The chef and owner, Bill Sutherland, came out and chatted with us since we were Alabama. His wife was there and we chatted for a bit. Found out that they were originally from Washington DC. They asked what were doing for the rest of the trip and we told him we were going to wine country (Willamette Valley) Sunday. He suggested a small private winery that he was going to called Natalie’s Estate Winery We finished dinner, said goodbye to our new found friends and caught a cab back to the hotel. We decided to go to the restaurant on the roof of the hotel for nightcaps and listen to the jazz trio. All in all, a very nice evening. Thank you Susan for a very nice birthday evening.

Sunday morning was as I expected. It was the day of the race that I could not run in. My body clock woke me up several times around 3:00. The time I normally get up for morning races. Also the fact that all those RUDE RUNNERS were nervously wandering the hotel hallway and getting on the elevator starting around 3:00 may have had something to do with my light sleeping. God I wish I had been one of them! It’s sort of like putting a dozen Krispy Kremes in front of a fat man and keeping his hands tied. Know what I mean? We wanted to get an early start since we planned on going to wine country so we thought we had better start early. We threw on some running clothes and headed out for a run. We had decided to run from the hotel down to the river (about 6 blocks) and then run along the Willamette River since they have a nice path on both sides of the river. We had to cross the marathon course to accomplish this. Again, my heart sank a little seeing all the people out there running but I picked up my chin and decided to enjoy what I had. Susan and I headed north along the west back, running parallel to the marathon. We then crossed one of the many bridges to the east back and headed south and then crossed back over on another bridge to the west bank. We then decided to head south and discovered a very nice area along the river. There was a nice park, shops, restaurants, condos, hotels, and marina all connected by the trail. VERY NICE. We decided that we should try one of the restaurants on Monday night. We then ran back to the north along the river and then back into the city. We stopped at a McDonalds about a block from the hotel and had breakfast, sitting there in our nasty sweaty running clothes. I guessed about 3 1/2 to 4 mile run with some beautiful scenery to boot.

Headed back to hotel, showered up and hit the road to wine country. This is about a 45 minute drive to the southwest of the city. The area is rather large and spreads all over the county but we had selected wineries all in the Dundee area and all within about 5 or 6 miles of each other. Susan called Natalie’s Estate Winery which is by appointment only and they were very nice and said to come on. Nothing like a wine tasting at 10:30 in the morning! We made our way up their private road to the house. However, the road became big, loose gravel on an uphill driveway to the winery. The mustang did not like the big, loose gravel and no matter how lightly I touched the gas or brakes, the car just wanted to sink. We almost got stuck and a man that was there told us park in a lower lot. Tragedy avoided. We walked up the hill and into the winery and guess who is there . . . Bill, the cook and owner from Filbert’s! He, his wife, and two friends of theirs from Washington DC. We all laughed about the chance meeting and chatted while tasting some very nice Pinot Noirs. I highly recommend that if you get a chance to visit the area, go to this very small but accommodating winery. We spent a little time talking to Cassandra, the wife and owner of Natalie’s. We found out that the winery is named after their daughter and she made several suggestions for dinners, etc. We said goodbye and headed out. So much wine, so little time. On the way out, Susan HAD TO STEAL an apple off an apple tree for a snack. I admit that I had a couple of bites so I am just as guilty.

We traveled around Dundee hitting several wineries. I won’t bore you with all the details. We finished our winery visit later in the afternoon with a visit to a place called The Pinot Station. Susan was hungry and in need of food but we had enough time for one more stop before we headed to Cary and Loretta’s so we stopped. This was a pretty good deal we got to try 5 Pinots and 3 whites for $5. Additionally, there was a limo there when we got there . . . it was a rolling party. Susan noticed a plate of fruit, cheese, crackers and started nonchalantly sneaking over to grab some bites. The girl behind the counter said the food was for the folks in the limo but they were done with so we could help ourselves. I have never seen such a small woman gobble down so many dates, grapes, and cheese bites as Susan did when we were told to help ourselves! Some pictures of Oregon Wine country-

Here's Susan negotiating stairs after a day full of winetasting. Notice the use of the handrail!

Anyway, after about 30 or 40 minutes there, we had to head north for dinner with Cary and Loretta.

We made it to Cary and Retta’s in about 30 minutes . . . not a bad drive from Dundee up to Beaverton. Everyone met us at the front door and everyone was welcoming of Susan. It’s interesting that Retta and I have the same birthday, Oct. 1. I brought several bottles of wine from our day in Willamette Valley and a loaf of bread from Cannon beach. They had gotten me a nice box of chocolate and dinner. Cary had gone crabbing that day. When we got there, crabs were boiling, oysters were cooking, and food was in abundance. Let me see if I can tell you everything that was served us . . . . Dungeness crab, fresh oysters, fresh shrimp, potatoes and corn on the cob. We had tons of food and wine. We also had dessert and ice cream. Quite a stuff fest! Afterwards, we decided that we’d head out and not overstay our welcome. We headed back into town . . . took about 15 minutes to get back to the hotel. We decided to have birthday nightcap. It was around 8:30.

Susan had been wanting to try the Portland City Grill. This is a happening place in the Yamhill district. It is a nice restaurant and bar in the 30th floor of a bank building. We took the train from the hotel to what was the stop nearest the bank. I’m not going to say that this was a mistake, but this was not the best place to get off a train. There were a gaggle of youths hanging out at the street corner. Don’t get me wrong. . . . I am not that much of old fart, but we’re talking probably 30-40 youths that were pushing, shouting, and acting a fool. Too bad I was in Oregon. In Alabama I would have my pistol with me. Susan and I quickly grabbed each other’s hands and moved down the street as fast as possible. The whole time I was looking for weapons at hand . . . garbage cans, newspaper stands. You get the idea. We cleared the area and sort of sighed. Only 4 blocks to go. Guess what we ran into next? A full fledged crazy man. Nothing against insanity . . . I’ve touched that place before in my life but this guy was a real nut job. He was yelling and screaming at somebody who was not there. I glanced up and saw us but didn’t approach us, thank goodness. Okay, just a couple of blocks. We can see the bank building the lights of the main boulevard just a block ahead. Being neurotic, I noticed the guy who was shadowing us on the opposite side of the street and the van filled with youths parked on the side of the street. All I could think was . . . thanks goodness I am faster than Susan! We made it to the building with no incident. We jumped on the elevator and made it upstairs. This place was packed. It wasn’t a loud obnoxious place but it was busy. We went into the bar and circled several times. Every table, chair and stool was occupied. We thought we’d have to skip it but we circled one more time and found and table and two chairs in the window-perfect. We sat down and enjoyed the view out the window, overlooking the city at night and watching the boats on the river. We had a couple of cocktails, held hands and watched the young couple across from us choke down a hamburger. There were a little on the strange side . . . tattoos and piercings but they seemed nice enough. The best part of the whole evening was when we got up to leave the youngster across the table from us said (and I quote) “ma’am, you dropped something”. What a hoot! Susan had dropped a scarf. The funny part is that I am the old person in our relationship . . . she’s the youngster, but somebody called her “ma’am”. I busted a gut on the spot and Susan also laughed . . . I guess she had to. We left the bank, walked down two block and over to the next train station and had no problems at all. I guess the youths just hung out on the one block. Took the train back to the hotel and hit the hay-we have a busy day on Monday, our last day there.

Monday arrived, sadly. I always hate the last day of a trip. We had decided that we were going to the Columbia River gorge to see waterfalls and do some hiking and anything else we could get into. While Susan was in the shower, I ran down the block to McDonalds and got our breakfast . . . not healthy but good and quick. We grabbed our maps, notes and camera and out the door we went. After about 45 minutes of driving, we were in the gorge and heading to our first location-Vista House. Pretty neat if you ever get the chance to go there-a marble house on top of a mountain with a killer view of the gorge looking east. We spent a little time at Vista House, bought some coffee and a souvenir coffee cup for each of us.

This is Columbia River Gorge looking east. Oregon on the right and Washington on the left. This is the Grand Canyon (sorry Phil) of the northwest.

We hit several waterfalls and did a little hiking. We just didn’t have time to do the gorge justice. You definitely need several days to do it right. I’m not going to give too many details but here’s a quick list of places we enjoyed and hiked-Latourell Falls, Bridal Veil Falls, Mutlnomah Falls, and Wahkeenah Falls. We hiked at every water fall and I figured we got in somewhere around 10-12 miles for the day. Here are just a couple of pictures of what we saw while hiking.

Yes, that is Susan standing next to the waterfall in the picture on the right.

Don't you think that she has a great smile?

Multnomah falls in the middle.

This is the view from the top of Multnomah falls. The picture above center is what most people see. Susan and I decided we wanted a different view!

This was taken later in the afternoon after several nice little hikes. This was the last waterfall we visited. I was cool and shady most of the day but all our hiking was a lot of climbing. The mist of the falls felt so good and helped to keep us cool.

There are so many other pictures I have but I don't want to overload this blog. The best part is the scenery was beautiful and we had SO MUCH FUN!

About 3:30 we decided to high tail it back into Portland to beat the rush hour traffic and to have dinner at a decent time so we could have one more nightcap and pack before bedtime. We got into town quickly so we walked around downtown a little. Of course we had to go into Tiffany’s just to look at all the sparkling stuff. No, I didn’t don anything like that so stop thinking that. We walked down to the riverfront area we discovered while running on Sunday. We went to one restaurant right on the river, overlooking the marina. This was going to be good. However, after waiting for a wait person for 6 minutes, we decided to blow the joint and move on. We told the hostess and she was very nice and was wanting us to stay but we hit the door running. We went to another restaurant just a block up and one of the places we had wanted to go to while doing our homework back in B’ham. The restaurant was called Stanfords and the meal was good. We decided to end our trip the way we started . . . . at Hubers. We hopped the train and headed north into town to go to Hubers. We headed inside and the barkeep that helped us on Friday afternoon was working. He recognized us and asked us about our trip. We ordered a couple of Spanish coffees, chatted with the barkeep a little, made eyes at each other and decided to call it an evening. Took the train back to hotel and packed for our morning departure. Goodbye to Portland . . . we’ll have to come back.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Didn't get it done

That's right. I lack the proper motivation to stick to a schedule. I was to run a 10 miler this weekend but failed to do so. I ran a hard 5 miler after church Sunday. I had intended to run on Saturday morning but it was cold and I wanted to go to Susan's girls' soccer games which were early. After the soccer games, we went on the great pumpkin hunt of 2006. Needless to say, I just found all kinds of excuses not to run on Saturday.

I fully intended to do the 10 on Sunday. However, I hooked up with Patrick, one of my neighbors. Normally I avoid running with Patrick simply because he has one speed . . . fast. I told him I was doing 10 and needed to run slow. He said no problem. Of course we ran a couple of mile down in the high 7 minute pace and that was that. By five miles, I had run a race and just couldn't back down to a 9:00 pace and run comfortably. So I used the afternoon to edge and cut the grass. Then I went over to Susan's to work on the doghouse I promised to help with. Normally doghouses are quick and easy but I made the mistake of getting input from 3 women on how they thought it should look. Now Sam (Susan's dog) has a better house than 50% of the poplulation in the state of Alabama.

I am planning doing 10 tonight if the storms don't catch me. I'll let you know later if I did it.

Friday, October 13, 2006

I know it

Yes, I have not posted my trip to Portland yet. I am working on it. Actually, it is such a large write up, I am just doing it in a word doc and will paste it over when I am done with it. I guess it is a good sign that I can go out of town, without running, with Susan, and have so much fun and so much to write about. Perhaps I need a separate blog for my personal life. What do you think? Should I keep this just running and write up my personal stuff elsewhere or do you mind sifting through the touchy feely stuff to get to the running stuff? I promise I'll post the trip soon.

I did a short recovery run. My legs were just a wee bit sore from Wed run, so I just did a 4 miler. Fastest was 8:30 and slowest was 8:45. The first mile was a little stiff legged but I quickly loosened up and found a nice stride.

I'm doing a 10 miler this weekend . . . hopefully first thing in the morning.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Still working at it

I love the cooler weather. Most fat boys love the cooler weather. It means I can run 6 miles without my shoes and socks being soaked in sweat. It means that I can take shower within 15 minutes and not still be sweating while water is running over my body. It means improved performance (perceived or real).

I had a very nice run yesterday afternoon. I did a 6 miler on my 1.2 mile loop in my 'hood. My neighbor Dom (check my links to the right) ran the last 3 with me. I felt comfortable, never really pushing. As the shadows lengthened, the temperature dropped a little. Perfect. Marc "Animal" was just starting as I was finishing so he joined me for about a mile. Thanks for the company guys!

Here's my splits on 1.2 mile loop and corresponding pace (rounded, of course)-

Lap 1 10:26 8:42 pace
Lap 2 10:29 8:45 pace
Lap 3 10:19 8:36 pace
Lap 4 10:30 8:45 pace
Lap 5 10:13 8:31 pace

Actual total time: 51:59

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

A quick update

Yes, I'm back from traveling and will give an extensive update on our trip to Portland. However, I just want to cover the basics right now-running.

Susan and I ran a little bit along the river (more about that in my upcoming trip post) while in Portland. After returning home, I had to go to Vidalia. I ran two days down there on the High School cross country trail. A very nicely kept track through the woods near the hotel where I was staying.

Saturday, after the girls soccer games, Susan and I went for a run along the Lakeshore greenway. I did 7.7 miles. Susan did 5.1 miles. I had a very good run considering I've been taking it easy for the last several weeks.
Here's my splits for Saturday-
Lap 1 21:20 8:18 pace
Lap 2 21:00 8:11 pace
Lap 3 20:30 7:59 pace

I am so glad that it is finally cooling off and my foot is feeling better.

I also ran Monday night. 5 miles at 8:20 pace.

I'll post more later.
It is good to be back!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

humpf . . . or something like that

Hey all. Yes it has been a while since I've posted. Been out of the mood since I have decided not to run the Portland marathon. The tendonitis, though clearing up, is still bothering me a little bit. After an attempt at a 20 miler a couple of Saturdays ago, I canned the whole thing after 5 bad miles. Enough whining!!! Let me update you on other things.

I have been running a few miles here and there the last couple of weeks. 3, 4, 5 mile runs. Not much meaning to them . . . just miles. I still want to run the Rocket City marathon and after this upcoming weekend (Portland weekend), I'll have 10 weeks to reclaim my fitness and put in the miles necessary to run the race.

I am going to Portland. Even though I am not running the race, I have decided to go ahead and take the trip. It will be good to get away and perhaps take a load of my mind. Perhaps the most important piece of this trip is the fact that Susan is going with me. I asked her to go a couple of months ago and she was excited to go. In fact, she was planning on running me in from mile 20. But it is not to be. However, we will have fun. We have 3 full days and 1 half day to take in as much as possible. We've been studying up and we're going to be all over the place.

Friday we get into Portland around 2:30 local time. We'll head straight to the hotel, check in, freshen up, and hit the streets. We're going to try to get in a little bit of a self guided walking tour. I guess we'll probably find a local micro-brewery for dinner-just a taste of local fun.

Saturday we plan on going to the beach. For those who don't know Portland, the beach is about 1 1/2 hours away. We're planning on going to Cannon Beach, eating lunch at a local beachside pub, hitting the shops, seeing Haystack Rock. Then we'll turn south to Tillamook for some cheese and perhaps another view of the west coast beach. From Tillamook, we'll return to Portland sometime in the afternoon. We need to get back in time to clean up since Susan is taking me to dinner for my birthday. She has picked out the restaurant and it is going to be a surprise. We're going to try to clean up early enough to go to the rooftop restaurant/bar in the Hilton Exective Towers where we are staying.

Sunday. The day I was supposed to be running the marathon. NOT HAPPENING. So we're going to have fun. This is Oct. 1 . . . my birthday. We're going to find a nice breakfast buffet or brunch somewhere in town. Then we are going to head SW to Willamette Valley for wine tasting. A day full of wine tasting. My former brother in law lives nearby and he and his wife may meet up with us for a day of winetasting. Plans are not set for meeting up with them yet (calling him tomorrow) but everyone is up for it. Late Sunday afternoon we are heading back to Cary and Retta's for dinner. Not only is it my birthday, it is Retta's (my former sister in law) birthday. This will be a good chance for Cary and the kids to meet Susan. We have all discussed this and though it may be a little wierd, we are all okay with this. Wish Susan and me luck.

Monday we are planning on spending the day in the Columbia River gorge. We will be seeing a lot of very pretty sites and doing a bit of hiking. Hopefully we can take in a paddleboat lunch or dinner cruise of the gorge. . . still working on that. I'd like to go as far east as Hood River but we're going to play it by ear. If we don't eat dinner in the gorge, we'll head back into Portland and find something downtown or maybe go to the rooftop restaurant in our hotel. Then we pack, go to bed early, and get ready for an early morning flight back to Birmingham.

I do need to tell you about my last two Saturdays. Since I have not been doing long runs, Susan and her daughters E and MA asked me to come to the girls' soccer games. Bear in mind that I do not have kids and have not really spent a lot of time around kids until Susan and I started seeing each other. Her girls are pretty cool. E is 6 and MA is 9 but about to turn 10. They both play soccer, though E seems to be more interested in the grasshoppers and butterflys. MA is a very good little athlete. She really enjoys the game, she takes her coaching well, she practices at home and even lets me kick the ball around with her.

E's games are played on a very small field with only two or three players per team plus a goaltender. It's sort of fun (and funny) watching these six year olds running around, kicking the ball, kicking each other, and getting totally bored after about 20 minutes. E enjoys it after she is there but she doesn't really seem to be too excited about it away from the soccer field. Susan and I both think that she just needs to find what she enjoys and is good at doing. Susan is just giving her a chance to see if she likes the soccer. Personally, I think that E will end up being a swimmer. She is better in the pool than half the adults I know. Here's a picture E that I took last week at the soccer game.

MA's games are a little more competitive. Actually, the games are pretty exciting. These 9 year old girls are all pretty good athletes and they are finally starting to realize what they are capable of and how the coaching is helping them. I guess I may be partial, but MA is one of the better players in this group. Her coach asks her to practice the the older group and with the boys at times. And she can handle (if that is the correct term) the ball. The two games I've seen her play in, she plays the striker position (front middle). This seems to be the main attack position. The coaches do rotate her to the wings occassionally but I think the center of the field is where she belongs. She can handle the ball equally well with her left or right foot and she can pass equally well to either side. In her first game, her team won 2-0 and she scored both goals. In her second game, her team won 5-0 and she scored 2 goals and had 2 assists. The coach moved her to a defensive position in the second half since she was running through the other team like cheap whiskey. It was really fun to watch her-especially knowing that she was having fun. Her's a picture of MA bring the ball down field. She's the cutie with the ponie tail on the left.

I'm planning on enjoying my long weekend with Susan in Portland. I'll be getting back to more serious things (like running) when I get back to town! Wish us luck and fun.